Mt Soledad
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Christian Citizenship Council
of San Diego
San Diego
“When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Prov 29:2)

“Election Pre-View Evenings”

Here we go again, elections are coming in November.  Mercifully, most decisions will deal with state initiatives, though some cities have offices that need filling.  All of California, however, will be voting on eight state-wide initiatives.  As a concerned citizen, are you prepared for this election?  Test yourself - are you well enough informed to know how to vote, or will you just depend on TV commercials?  Are you relying on your spouse or a close friend to tell you what to do?  Have you researched each initiative from a Biblical worldview perspective to know how to best vote?  Do you even care? As Christians we’re citizens of two kingdoms, our heavenly one (Matt 22:37) and our earthly one (Matt 22:39).  Part of our earthly citizenship responsibility includes voting in every election in a Christ-honoring way, not in a casual way.  If we’re accountable for every careless word we speak (Matt 12:36), how much more are we accountable for our decisions on questions affecting the entire state?

Within a church environment we’re equipped in every aspect of our Christian walk, why not in how to cast a righteous vote for the common good?  Voting Biblically will take energy and thought, but doesn’t have to be done alone. Breaking new ground, several local churches have held “Election Pre-View Evenings” in recent years.  These enabled church members to become better equipped to vote wisely.  With a little planning, a little division of labor, and the selection of a meeting night, a unique opportunity to apply Biblical principles to practical voting questions is available to every church.  To get started, consider the following steps:

First, find others in your church willing to do some homework.  Then, work with your pastor/elders to ensure everything is done with their blessing, active support and oversight.  Next, decide what you want to accomplish.  Will the church meeting be only informational, a debate, or a discussion group?  The most common approach is to assign individuals particular initiatives to study and understand thoroughly.  This includes reading the initiative legal text, researching objective implications if passed, finding the compelling arguments for and against, and identifying major supporters on both sides of the issue.  Last and most importantly – identify Biblical principles that can validly be applied.  This may sound overwhelming, but information is easily available with a little work (internet, political party position papers, ads, elected officials statements, etc.), and your pastors can provide insight into the application of Biblical principles.

For the church meeting itself, establish ground rules up front.  These include who will facilitate, the format to be followed, time limits, and how the audience will participate (if at all).  Initial instruction on the Biblical basis for Christian citizenship and what the church can and cannot do legally will help set the stage.  Initiative presenters are free to give their bottom line personal recommendations (it’s legal!).  Single page summaries of information using a common format will allow everyone to continue their study afterwards.  What I’ve seen work well is having 5-10 minutes after each presentation to allow audience comments or questions to ensure important facts or reasoning have not been overlooked.  Finally, if voter guides from trusted, objective sources are available, provide these also. 

Just as iron sharpens iron (Prov 27:17), these opportunities allow Christians to grapple with voting decisions within a Biblical context.  Remember, however, to be gentle and respectful towards each other, since sincere believers may differ on issues.   Forums like these require facts, clear reasoning, and relevant Biblical principles as the guiding force, not emotional appeal, hearsay, or generalizations that cannot be substantiated.  The ultimate goal would be for all to agree Biblically on what decisions would glorify the Lord most.  I know this sounds overwhelming or awkward if never tried before, but there’s no better place to wrestle with these decisions than within a teaching, learning, church environment.  Once tried, I guarantee you’ll be hooked. 

Finally, if you would like more details on how a church can conduct an effective “Election Pre-View Evening”, as well as other citizenship ideas, send me an e-mail with your address and request a copy of “Equipping the Church to Vote – Exercising Christian Citizenship in a Church Environment” and one will be sent to you free.

Frank Kacer
Executive Director, Christian Citizenship Council of San Diego

First published in the October 2005 issue of Good News Etc.